Mega events hub Dubai to cash in on trillion-dollar global business travel sector

Mega events hub Dubai to cash in on trillion-dollar global business travel sector

Already recognised as the region’s leading meetings, incentives, conferences and events (MICE) destination, Dubai is set to grab a larger slice of the international MICE market in line with the surge in business travel – a market set to be worth US$1.8 trillion in 2027

The growth of Dubai’s MICE sector is in part being driven by Dubai Business Events (DBE), the city's official convention bureau, which successfully won a record 349 bids to host major conferences and events in 2023, marking a substantial 49% increase compared to 2022. These events are expected to bring more than 191,000 international delegates to Dubai, further boosting its reputation as a global business hub.

Dubai’s strategic initiatives and world-class facilities make it an ideal location for international conferences and corporate events. Prominent upcoming events include the Critical Communications World 2024 and the WCA Worldwide Annual Conference 2024, each of which are expected to attract thousands of delegates.

Dubai was also recognised as the top meeting and MICE destination in the Middle East by Cvent for 2023 and was named the Middle East's Leading Meetings & Conference Destination at the 2023 World Travel Awards. Such accolades only serve to enhance Dubai's stellar reputation as a major events hub.

Expo 2020 and COP28 boost Dubai’s reputation

From Expo 2020 Dubai to the COP28 UN Climate Change Conference, Dubai’s enviable reputation for hosting major global events has been ably demonstrated in recent years.

Dubai continues to build on its reputation as an international MICE destination, charting ambitious plans for the future to attract even more prestigious events and consolidate its position as a leading global hub for business and innovation.

The recent decision by Arabian Travel Market (ATM) – the region’s largest annual travel trade event – to establish landmark partnerships with the International Congress and Convention Association (ICCA) and the Global Business Travel Association (GBTA), highlight the importance of the MICE sector to Dubai’s long-term economic growth.

According to the ICCA, there were 10,602 business events staged worldwide last year, with the Middle East hosting the highest percentage of in-person delegates. This statistic highlights the region's growing prominence as a preferred MICE destination, with Dubai leading the way in this respect.

Meanwhile, the 2023 GBTA Business Travel Index Report noted a 47% increase in global business travel spending to US$1.03 trillion last year, with this figure set to rise over the coming decade. According to the GBTA, this growth, primarily driven by pent-up post-pandemic demand and stronger than expected economic conditions, positions Dubai at the forefront of destinations set to benefit moving forward.

Cutting-edge infrastructure attracts event organisers

Dubai’s world-class conference and events infrastructure includes state-of-the-art venues like the Dubai World Trade Centre (DWTC) as well as District 2020, the repurposed Expo 2020 site. This precinct, which features a host of flexible spaces and advanced digital infrastructure, is designed to support a range of activities from large-scale exhibitions to smaller corporate events.

Additionally, many of Dubai’s 800+ hotels boast expansive conference and events facilities, as well as cutting-edge amenities designed specifically for business travellers and delegates, further enhancing Dubai's attractiveness as a destination for hosting international events. Dubai’s sophisticated, ultra-modern infrastructure not only supports the growth of its booming MICE sector but also drives the city's broader economic and tourism strategies.

"Business events have consistently proven to be an important catalyst for Dubai’s development, driving knowledge growth and contributing the evolution of key sectors and industries,” comments Ahmed Al Khaja, CEO of Dubai Festivals and Retail Establishment.

“Dubai's success in securing major international conferences, congresses, meetings and incentives in 2023 was a reward for the robust efforts of all stakeholders across the public and private sectors. The events captured and taking place over the coming years will bring business leaders, innovators and changemakers together in Dubai, with the emirate benefitting from our fast-growing knowledge economy, further contributing to our collective momentum.”

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